In general, patients with malignant tumours of the skull base have a poor prognosis. Treatment may have a disfiguring physical and disabling mental effect on patients.
To evaluate the effect of treatment on physical and mental quality of life in patients with skull base malignancy, we conducted a cross-sectional patient survey of 18 patients treated for such tumours, using the University of Washington (version 4) quality of life questionnaire and the hospital anxiety and depression scale.
The total quality of life score (median value) was 980 (550–1125). Patients with anterior skull base malignancy scored lower than those with lateral skull base malignancy (p=0.003).
In general, the worst individual domain scores were: mood (64 per cent); activity (69 per cent); and, specifically for patients with anterior skull base malignancy, taste (54 per cent, p=0.004) and anxiety (60 per cent, p=0.034).
One-third of skull base cancer patients were at risk of suffering from mental distress and psychiatric morbidity (indicated as a score of more than seven on the hospital anxiety and depression scale).